It’s funny what motivates us to act on things that have been on our hearts for years. I would say that the story of Nations Outfitters really started back in the 1980s, but that’s another story.
My name is Lisa Ann Muir-Taylor. I am a wife to Alastair and mother to Tom, Georgia, Genie, and Sophie, ranging in age from 47 to 10. Well, Alastair and I are both 47. We met at the University of Alabama and, through many of life’s ups and downs, we are more in love today than we were 23 years ago. Without Alastair’s belief and support, I could never have begun to dream of Nations becoming reality. “Thank you,” Alastair for your belief in this vision and in me. I also want to thank my children who have embraced this project as if we’ve adopted another child.
As a stay-at-home mother of 16 years, I explained early on that Nations would demand a lot of my time. I knew how to “do babies” but had no clue how to start a company. My kids have witnessed me organizing numerous birthday parties and carpools for every sporting event, dance and recital that comes with raising four kids. And while their belief in me was strong, I knew I was outmatched for the task ahead, short of God bringing the exact right people across my path to partner with me. He is faithful.
And so I thank all the moms, dads, kids, friends, pray-ers, doers, shakers, sketchers, cutters, pattern makers, fabric reps, photographers, web builders and most of all Jesus Christ who really is the author of this unfolding story.
As I ran, I prayed which I often do but on that particular day, my heart was heavy for a sweet family who had just lost their beautiful baby boy in a horrible accident. How in the midst of unbelievable sadness do you continue to point people to a belief in God’s sovereign plan? How do you sustain your own trust in God when a child is taken at the tender age of two? Yet that is exactly what I witnessed at the funeral of young Bronner Burgess. As Rick Burgess, father of Bronner, gave the eulogy, he challenged all believers to take a stand for their faith. He shared a compelling statistic that 93% of Christians never share their faith with anyone. In the midst of unimaginable grief, his focus was not on his loss or the “why’s” of the accident but on a resolve that lives count for the purpose of the Kingdom.
With tears running down my face, I began to ask God to use me like never before to make a difference in His kingdom. It was the kind of prayer you pray while already anticipating the answer. Surely it would be for me to become more involved in inner-city work that I had already begun with women fresh out of jail. At first, I did not recognize God’s answer to my heartfelt prayer. To my utter surprise, God gave me a vision that would point teenagers to something bigger than themselves. The thought was so clear, but yet so distant from my usual realm of thinking. It struck me as very strange but nothing I would take seriously – a clothing company???
As days and weeks passed, creative ideas for starting a clothing company continued to bombard my mind. Let me be the first to say, I know nothing about clothes. I mean, I wear clothes, but I’m not really a clothes horse or taken with fashion. Thus, I often ignore these random thoughts. Give me my vegetable garden…my pottery studio…my exercise class --- these were my “loves,” but not clothes! Yet my mind dreamed on with images of positive ways to affect teens through the fashion industry.
It was about this time, that my eight-year-old daughter asked me about a skimpily clad girl plastered on the wall of a popular teen clothing store. “What is she selling?” innocently questioned Sophie.
“Good question, Sophie and you’re only eight.” In fact, the beautiful girl in the picture was selling sex and the clothing industry knows it well. As I left the store, I heard a little voice in my head telling me to start a clothing company for teens that would send a different message. But still, “Who am I”?
It’s a beautiful spring day and, with most of the housework done, I decided to take a run. Little did I know that this day would be a turning point in my very nonchalant attitude toward the future of what is now Nations Outfitters. After all, I was way too busy for such dreams. My previous work outside the home was in nursing and pharmaceutical sales - never had I designed clothing.
While I pondered these thoughts, I sat down in my closet to put on my running shoes. It was then that I noticed a book under my shelf. Given to me by a friend some four years earlier, the book was Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. After dusting off the cover, I flipped randomly to page 125. In the middle of the book and centered squarely on the page, I saw the words “CONSUMED WITH CLOTHES.” God and the book had my attention. What are the chances that I would turn to the only page in the whole book that had anything to do with the clothing industry? Piper talked of teens’ need to conform and how culture dictates their choice of clothing.
It was as if God himself was standing in my closet and had opened the book to that page. It was then that I began to pray about what God wanted me to do with this vision that He had placed in my heart and on my mind. It was then that I could no longer ignore what God had called me to do and the wheels began to turn towards the clothing company called Nation's Outfitters.